A 30-year-old Conway man was sentenced to 15 years in prison on Monday after pleading guilty to witness bribery and for having prohibited articles while incarcerated in the Faulkner County Detention Center in 2016.
The case stems from a random search of cell 309 at the Faulkner County Detention Center on Aug. 31, 2016.
Trenton Jefferson stood in shackles next to his attorney, Michael K. Kaiser, on Monday as he pleaded guilty to the aforementioned charges in Faulkner County Circuit Court.
An April jury trial in the matter was canceled after Jefferson pleaded guilty in a negotiated plea deal. As part of the agreement, Jefferson was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
During the search on Aug. 31, 2016, a white iPhone fell out of Jefferson's pants and onto the floor. Jefferson was being held at the FCDC at the time of this incident pending transfer to the Arkansas Department of Corrections after a jury sentenced him to 15 years in prison after he broke into his estranged wife's home and immediately began hitting his 5-year-old son with a leather belt.
Police said the boy was covered in welts when they arrived, noting there was a welt on his chest raised approximately 0.12 inches that was nearly 3 inches long.
"Jefferson's domestic battery case showed his propensity for violence," 20th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Luke Ferguson said. "Now, this case demonstrates his complete disregard for the justice system."
The plea deal reached between the defense counsel and prosecutors states that this sentence will run consecutively with Jefferson's previous 15-year battery sentence.
While this will not keep Jefferson off the streets for an additional 15 years, Ferguson said it will keep him out of the area for a few years longer.
"He thought he could bribe his way out of another criminal charge, but the Faulkner County Sheriff's Office leadership found out and put a stop to it," Ferguson said Monday. "Jefferson's most recent sentence will extend his prison stay by at least a couple of years, even if he is released at the earliest point allowed by law. Jefferson is a prime example of the type of person that we want to remove from our community."
According to a probable cause affidavit, Jefferson tried to bribe the officer who confronted him about the phone, “saying he could get him [$1,000] to act like he didn’t see the phone.”
Jefferson refused to hand over the phone until a female officer stepped inside the cell, demanding he hand it over. Again, Jefferson offered $1,000.
The officer declined the deal and took the phone.
Soon after, Sade Long went to the front lobby at the jail, asking for the female officer. She said she “received a call to pick up property for Detainee Jefferson,” according to the affidavit.
Long was asked to go to the sheriff’s office for questioning, where investigators learned she had $1,000 in cash in her pocket.
Long said she was told to pick up items for a Tony Jefferson, who is Trenton Jefferson’s brother, and that the money “came from doing clients’ hair all day,” noting she worked at a beauty salon. Long pleaded guilty in May 2017 to witness bribery and furnishing prohibited articles to an inmate. As part of her negotiated plea deal, she was sentenced to five years of probation.
According to court documents, investigators learned that additional money would be given to Jefferson at the jail.
“Major John Randall set up surveillance in the parking area of the jail,” according to documents. “During the surveillance, two black males were witnessed walking to a truck in the parking lot, and placing an object into the bed of the truck.”
When investigators walked up to the truck, they found there was a “slightly opened bag” with an “unknown amount” of money in it.
Upon further surveillance, investigators watched Detention Officer Luke Wimberly go up to the truck, remove the bag from the back and sit inside the truck for about 20 minutes.
Wimberly admitted to accepting $250 to deliver two phones and “approximately 6.5 [grams] of suspected methamphetamine” to Jefferson, according to court documents.
Randall compared the $250 that Wimberly was given to the photocopies of the money Long had in her pocket and noted the serial numbers matched up.
Wimberly has since pleaded guilty to furnishing prohibited articles, delivering methamphetamine and abuse of an officer and was sentenced to five years of probation.